Distribution On The Edge: How Digital Is Decentralizing The Distribution Supply Chain

Posted on March 8, 2019


I have known QSTRAT’s Managing Partner Steve Wargalla for many years. In fact, and if memory serves me, we met at a purchasing association conference back in 2007 in St. John’s, Newfoundland or as some call it “The Rock.” For the sake of clarity, it is not the same “Rock” as the one referenced in the movie with Sean Connery. Good movie by the way.

Even in 2007, I was impressed with QSTRAT as a company, as well as Steve’s grasp of the industry. So when he recently sent me an article titled Preparing the Supply Chain for a Digital Economy, I knew that it would be a worthwhile read especially since I had just returned from doing a series of interviews with some of the top digital thinkers in our country at #ActivateDigital2019 in Toronto.

In the article Thomas Insights’ senior copy editor, Helen Carey wrote that as we begin to better “understand” supply chains across various industries, “decentralization will become more viable, allowing smaller players to participate.”

As an example of the emerging digital reality, Carey refers to how the agriculture industry which has “historically worked with very centralized supply chains” put smaller farmers “at the mercy of big suppliers and distributors.” She then goes on to say that with digital’s more people-centered approach small farmers will find themselves “increasingly in the spotlight” which according to Carey is a far more favorable position.

In reading the above, another article by HPE Canada President Paula Hodgins immediately came to mind. Considering the concept of decentralization Paula’s article To Succeed In The Digital Age, You Need To Work At The Edge, resonates on many levels – especially within the supply chain world. Specifically, that technology has finally reached the point of maturation in which the need for the tightly gripped centrally controlled “managed processes” of the ERP era is no longer a necessity. And no, I am not heralding the demise of the ERP platform – although Gartner’s postmodern ERP-era proclamation is also worth noting at this point.

What I am saying is that in the digital age when there will be “up to 10 web-connected devices per every person” globally debates regarding the merits of decentralization are tantamount to arguing about whether or not the sun rises in the east – it does right. In short, and as more people begin to work beyond the cloud on “the edge,” decentralization is inevitable.

The only real question is how this will impact your distribution supply chain, and what you will need to do about it to ensure that you maintain your competitive position in the emerging digital marketplace.

To help you answer this as well as other questions regarding distribution in the digital age, I will be moderating a panel discussion online on March 27th. You can learn more about the webinar as well as register to attend through the following link: BEYOND ACCURACY: How Distributors Are Transforming Customer Experience In The Digital Age.

Webinar Hashtag #DistributorQP


Posted in: webinars